In any story that involves interaction between humans, there are certain characters that we expect and that have an important role in the development of such story: we have the hero, the villain, a love interest, and the companion of the hero or villain. And the latter is the one that will have our full attention on this occasion, and which we will call the sidekick.
The sidekick characters are rooted in superhero comics, and emerge as a hero’s need to have someone to talk and be with, and it was also a way for writers and publishers to approach a younger audience. While the popularity of superhero sidekicks has had its highs and lows, it is a significant figure in the history of comics. And as human beings, sidekcicks are almost always present, because no super powers are required to be or have an accomplice. The thing is that we, mere mortals, call them friends.
As always, let’s start from the beginning. The word friendship comes from
Old English frēond, that derives from “relative” or “lover”. Literally “loving-[one]”
The word amigo (Spanish for friend) comes from
and amicus (friend),
derived from amare (to love).
Not surprisingly, the definition is «loving relationship between two or more people.» Friendship is one of the most common relationships that most people have at different stages of life and in different levels of importance and significance. Friendship is born when people have similar concerns, interests and common feelings. There are friendships that are born within a few minutes since meeting someone and others take years to do so, but in any case, the feeling that we find there, is love. Not a romantic kinda love, though…
Friendly relations have been profoundly narrated in both the world of literature and film, and on television as well. To give you some examples, we could mention Han Solo and Chewbbacca, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, The Doctor and his companions, the fun gang from Big Bang Theory, and definitely the most famous duo in the history of pop culture: The Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin.
As we mentioned a moment ago you, the sidekick is born when editors of the world of comics realize that a 10 year old boy could not identify himself with an adult billionaire. That is when the figure of Robin arrives: in its 5 different versions, it’s possible to see the evolution from the adolescent to young adult who becomes the replacement of his mentor. If you do not know the story of Robin well, we leave you this educational video:
It’s interesting how pop culture has succeeded in making the sidekick figure comparable to friendships we have in everyday life. Robin wouldn’t have had the same importance in the history of Batman if he hadn’t shared values, beliefs, feelings and similar experiences. Even their differences are the basis for the Dynamic Duo to remain united, it is Robin who often keeps the Dark Knight behind the thin line that separates him from becoming a criminal.
And what is a friend but a complement for us, an extension of our personality, but with its own thoughts and feelings, and someone who we are comfortable with to be authentic and venture new experiences. The figure of friends has existed since humans do, because even though each person has unique characteristics and motivations, we all need other people to fully develop. This means that the human being is a social subject. As a social subject, the human being requires interaction and coexistence with other human beings to educate, develop and to reproduce. There is no human being who can live only as an individual, isolated from others. In fact, the human being acquires its human condition from its link with others.
Interpersonal relationships are present in many contexts, at school, work, in a queue, in a bank transaction… but friendship particularly has much deeper feelings and shared thoughts, maybe only to be compared to family experiences. In fact some people say that friends are «the family we choose.» The values commonly involved are trust, love, mutual respect and tolerance, and honesty. Even a mentor can transcend into friendship, leaving behind the teacher – apprentice dichotomy, and evolving into a profound complicity, as we can see in the Green and Red Arrow duet, or with Rocket and Groot.
It is not surprising that your best friend is not completely equal to you, or that you can’t explain your relationship with someone close, this is because a friend doesn’t have to be necessarily explained beyond the enjoyment and benefits that each person gives you. A friend is fundamental in a person’s ability to learn problem solving, useful in the search for objectivity in a conflict, present at a time that requires celebration, and it’s the one that even in the distance feels always close.
These contrasts are identifiable in the figure of Robin, who at first appears in Detective Comics series as Dick Grayson to lighten up a storyline where Batman was a more violent and dark character, even using weapons. Robin brings out the paternal and confident figure in Batman that remains as the character’s fundamental trait until the arrival of Jason Todd, the second Robin, and who will be critical to the development of The Dark Knight after his death in «A Death in the Family». This is an excellent example of how a friendship can transcend into family.
While humans have always related in some way to develop, it is true that friendship, as any interpersonal relationship, can be conflicting. In the current TV series «Arrow» by CW, we can see the different stages of creating and maintaining a friendship along with Oliver Queen and John Diggle. Here we can see the differences and similarities in thoughts and emotions that will create one of the deepest “bromances” in the modern world of superheroes, stretching to the point in which, when Oliver Queen disappears, Diggle is capable of assuming his role as «Arrow» without any problems, and is even able to anticipate the next move of his comrade to support Queen even when didn’t request assistance, and despite this brings up problems and heated discussions between them, friendship prevails.
Friendship is considered one of the most important relationships for human beings. It’s not surprising that the loss of a friend or distancing from close associates would cause unpleasant emotions. Those people with which the simple fact of doing nothing, or making the craziest ideas come true, transfrom our daily lives into a social and emotional learning continue that allows us to evolve as a society and maintain important emotional ties, which make our fellow friends partners in crime that we choose for life, always being heroes for each other.